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Arms, legs, hands and feet

Arms, legs, hands and feet


Arms, legs, hands and feet.

Newborn babies have an immature blood circulation that naturally shunts most of their blood supply to their chest and heads when they are asleep. This results in their hands and feet feeling cooler and looking bluish-purple in colour. The colour usually returns to being pink when the baby wakes, cries, or moves around. Their hands and feet may feel sweaty because of the excess sweat glands on this area of their body.

A baby's legs are normally 'bowed' in shape, they will straighten when the baby is older. The feet also normally curve inwards, due to the position they were in when in the uterus and will straighten by the time the baby is ready to walk.

Babies born around their due date will usually have long finger and toenails, and some will have scratch marks from accidentally scratching themselves. You may wish to place cotton mittens over their hands to prevent further scratching or gently clip their fingernails with special baby scissors. Often a newborn baby's fingernails are quite soft and flexible and can be gently peeled off. (Do not use your teeth to bite off fingernails as this can cause infections around the baby's cuticles).

If your baby was overdue their hands and feet could be very wrinkled and have dry, peeling skin. This is normal and some non-perfumed Sorbelene cream will usually keep their skin supple and moist.

Newborn babies will usually keep their legs and arms pulled in close to their bodies, as they have been in utero. Babies who have been in a 'frank breech' position (bottom first, legs extended with their feet placed on either side of their head near their ears) can remain in this position for a few days or weeks after the birth. This can make putting a nappy on them a little challenging. You may wish to learn some exercises from the physiotherapist at the hospital to help your baby's legs 'loosen' up and bend naturally.


Last revised: Wednesday, 12 December 2012

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

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